Kevin Shattenkirk, Brenden Morrow

Tonight on NBCSN: Broken Stars try to keep up with surging Blues

The time is now for the Dallas Stars to buckle down and figure out if they’re playoff contenders or pretenders and the St. Louis Blues will do whatever they can to keep them down at home tonight (7:30 p.m. ET).

The Stars have been besieged by injuries of late. A MCL problem has Mike Ribeiro on the shelf until after the All-Star Game while Jamie Benn is out of action for at least that long after having his appendix removed. That’s two of Dallas’ top four scorers meaning defense and goaltending are going to have to lead the way. Coach Glen Gulutzan has his hands full in keeping the Stars focused on the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the offensive production will have to come from Loui Eriksson, Michael Ryder, Brenden Morrow, and Steve Ott. Ryder’s been a pleasant surprise and Eriksson is always good, but it’s a tall order to do it without their playmakers.

If there’s an upside to dealing with the Blues, it’s that you don’t have to score a ton of goals to hang in games with them.

The Blues have risen to the top of both the Central Division and Western Conference thanks to a renewed commitment to defense thanks to new head coach, and former Stars coach, Ken Hitchcock. Getting stellar goaltending from both Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak doesn’t hurt either. The Blues roll into tonight’s game winners of five of their last six.

Sure the Blues aren’t scoring a ton of goals, but they’re getting them from a lot of different guys. Six different Blues have double-digit goals and six different guys have 20 or more points on the season. While one of them is out in Alex Steen, guys like David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Jason Arnott, and Kevin Shattenkirk have picked things up from both the forward and defense positions.

They’ll have to get pucks past Kari Lehtonen tonight to keep winning and keep pace with Chicago and Detroit in the Central. Doing it against a Dallas team that knows their up against it starting tonight means the Blues will have to be especially sharp to win.

WATCH LIVE: Flyers at Caps (Also: No hearing for Simmonds, who will play)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 22:  Wayne Simmonds #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates his game winning goal in the shootout against the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center on March 22, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Capitals 2-1 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Today, the Philadelphia Flyers invade Verizon for a Super Bowl matinee against the Capitals. You can catch the game on NBC (12 p.m. ET), or you can watch live online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Some notes to pass your way:

— Per an NHL spokesman, there will be no disciplinary hearing for Wayne Simmonds after getting ejected from yesterday’s game against the Rangers for punching Ryan McDonagh.

Per the AP, the NHL has not rescinded Simmonds’ match penalty.

Steve Mason starts in goal for Philly, while the Caps counter with Braden Holtby.

Some relevant linkage for today’s affair:

‘A big loss’ — Couturier out four weeks with lower-body injury

Ovechkin beats Devils in shootout

Forsberg’s three points push Predators past Sharks, 6-2

at SAP Center on October 28, 2015 in San Jose, California.
Getty Images
1 Comment

NASVHILLE, Tenn. (AP) Recent call-up Viktor Arvidsson scored twice, Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists and the Nashville Predators beat the San Jose Sharks 6-2 on Saturday night.

Pekka Rinne made 28 saves and James Neal, Calle Jarnkrok and Shea Weber also scored to help Nashville end a three-game home losing streak.

Joe Thornton and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks. Their 17-8-2 road record is the best in the Western Conference, and the Sharks fell to 9-2-2 in their last 13 games.

Rinne, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, regained his form after allowing six goals in a loss Thursday night to Philadelphia.

Arvidsson was recalled from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Monday.

San Jose goalie Martin Jones allowed five goals on 29 shots. He was 8-1-1 in his previous 10 starts and has an NHL-best 15-5-2 road record.

The Sharks dominated early and took eight of the game’s first nine shots, but Rinne stopped them all.

Nashville scored on its third shot when Neal fired a slap shot from the low slot past Jones 13:12 in. Neal leads the Predators with 19 goals.

Jarnkrok’s wrist shot from the mid-slot bounced over Jones’ glove and in for a 2-0 lead at 6:26 of the second period.

Johansen assisted on the play, giving him 14 points in 13 games since arriving in a trade with Columbus on Jan. 6.

Jarnkrok also scored in a 6-3 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, giving him nine goals on the season.

Thornton cut Nashville’s lead in half when he swatted a loose puck in the crease into the net at 15:41 of the second period.

Nashville responded quickly when Arvidsson roofed a wrist shot that beat Jones glove side at 17:01 of the second period.

Forsberg’s short-handed goal built Nashville’s lead to 4-1 at 6:51 of the third period. He beat Jones with a wrist shot to the far post. Forsberg now has 101 career points.

Arvidsson scored his second goal on a 2-on-1 breakaway, deking Jones before sliding a backhander past him to give the Predators a 5-1 lead at 8:44 of the third period.

Couture’s slap shot narrowed the deficit to 5-2 at 13:37 of the third period.

Weber got an empty-net goal with 4:37 left.

Notes: Predators center Mike Ribeiro played in his 1,000th career game, becoming the 22nd active NHL player and 300th ever to reach the milestone. He was Montreal’s second-round pick in the 1998 draft. … Nine of the Sharks’ first 11 games after the All-Star break are on the road. … San Jose RW Joel Ward, 35, played three seasons for Nashville from 2008-11 early in his career. … Sharks right wing Joe Pavelski entered with eight game-winning goals, tied with Chicago’s Jonathan Toews for the most in the NHL.

Hockey tough: Mark Stone shakes off skate to face, scores

Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone celebrates his game winning goal during overtime against the Boston Bruins during an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016.  The Senators defeated the Bruins 2-1. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
Leave a comment

You’d think the reaction to taking a skate to the face would be something like “Not coming back to that game, getting some ice and maybe do some soul-searching.”

Nope, not in the NHL, at least.

In this league, the real reaction is almost always to come back to the same game … and barely miss a beat.

Ottawa Senators Mark Stone provides the latest example of hockey toughness, as he bounced back almost immediately from this.

What did he do? He scored a nice goal in the Senators’ 6-1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP
3 Comments

It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.